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The film was, as noted, a very challenging puzzle, but it was not insoluble despite some quirky assumptions.
The movie Premonition seems as if it was intended to be confusing, and perhaps it was--pulling the viewer into the confused life of Linda Hanson, who lives a week of her life completely out of sequence for no apparent reason, and discovers that her husband is killed in a car crash which she caused.
The sequence we see begins with the Thursday of what Linda tells her friend Annie has been a swiftly-passing uneventful week. She is interrupted as Sheriff Reilly arrives to tell her that her that her husband, Jim, who left on Wednesday for a business trip from which he was expected to return on Friday, was killed in a vehicular accident. The news is devastating. She has her mother, Mrs. King, help her with her elementary-school daughters, Bridgette and Megan, and falls asleep on the couch.
When she awakens, her mother is not in the den. She finds Jim getting breakfast, babbling about his Monday morning meeting and training the new assistant manager. She supposes that Thursday must have been a dream. She goes to bed with him that night. However, she awakens alone, a single used wine glass on the table, the mirrors covered, and Mrs. King entertaining visitors downstairs.. She finds a bottle of Lithium prescribed to her by a Dr. Roth, spilled in her bathroom sink. Bridgette is covered with recently stitched cuts; the younger Megan denies that they exist, and neither girl will tell her how it happened. She has trouble accepting this as reality, and at the church insists on seeing the body. She sees an unfamiliar blonde at the cemetery, who tells her that they talked on Friday.
She looks for Dr. Roth in the phone book but finds that the page has been torn out. She spots it in the wastebasket. Roth's office is closed, but before the night is over Mrs. King arranges for Roth to have Linda committed to a secure psychiatric facility, where she is drugged and falls asleep strapped to a bed.
She opens her eyes on Tuesday, checks her arms for injection marks, and hears Jim in the shower. She gets in the shower with him--but he is in a rush to get to work. Bridgette is not injured; she warns the girls to be careful, but then gets confused. She can't find the Lithium bottle, and looks in the trash for the phone book page, but finds it in the book and tears it out. Roth is the only listed psychiatrist.
Roth does not recognize her. He prescribes the drug she says she found. She laughs when he asks her to return the next day. Then she stops at Jim's office and meets that new assistant manager, the blonde from the funeral, Claire Francis. She is starting to suspect several things, including that she's losing her sanity. In the bathroom, she starts pouring Lithium as if preparing an overdose.
She is interrupted by the realization that a storm is striking, and drops everything into the sink while calling the girls to get the laundry. Bridgette runs through the glass door, sending them to the hospital. Linda is confused, remembering putting stickers on the door, on Thursday.
Linda covers the mirrors and instructs the girls that they will not speak of the scars. Then she throws the phone book page into the waste basket.
At that moment, she realizes that this is where she found it on Saturday. She grabs paper and sketches a calendar, piecing together events she knows, including that the accident occurs on Wednesday. She makes Jim promise to awaken her before he leaves, if tomorrow is Wednesday.
For her, though, tomorrow is Friday. She awakens where she fell asleep Thursday, pulls the calendar from its hiding place, confronts Claire, makes funeral arrangements, and has a glass of wine before bed. She then travels to Sunday, when she makes a concerted effort to remind Jim how much he loves his family.
Jim does not awaken her Wednesday morning, but takes the girls to school, and heads toward his business meeting and clandestine affair. Linda pursues him. He cancels the tryst, then leaves the message on the answering machine, interrupted by her phone call to him. He pulls over at the accident site, and she panics, telling him to turn around and get away from the scene. This results in his car being stalled across the road when the tanker truck approaches, causing the accident she is trying to prevent.
We leap forward about six months to find Linda pregnant from that Sunday, Bridgette healing from her wounds, and a very confused time travel story indeed. Next time we will attempt to sort out some of the problems.
We attempted to outline the time travel story. Next we are going to focus on identifying some of the complications of that story.
Perhaps the most glaring complication is that there are two accidents, but the consequences of one of them are absent on one of the days after it must have occurred: although Bridgette ran through the glass door on Tuesday and so was covered with stitched cuts on Friday and Saturday (and six months later as they were healing), on Thursday she is fine. That means history has changed. In order for Bridgette to have received injuries on Tuesday and have the scars on Friday, there must be a Thursday on which she is scarred. In order for there to be a Thursday on which she is not scarred, there must be a Tuesday on which she did not run through the glass door. This eliminates any chance of a fixed time theory resolution to the film. We must pursue replacement theory for answers.
The second glaring problem is that Linda causes the accident she is trying to prevent. This sort of predestination paradox is common in fixed time stories, but under replacement theory the problem of the uncaused cause is resolved by finding an original alternate cause. However, here it is complicated by the fact that Linda interrupts him at exactly the same moment while he is leaving exactly the same voicemail, and he is killed in exactly the same way. That means we need a cause that gets Linda to cause the accident before she knows about the accident.
There is also a serious problem of memory. We had a similar problem in Hot Tub Time Machine: Linda does not travel bodily to other moments in time, but rather her spirit or consciousness or soul possesses her body, bringing with it knowledge she has gained from other times. Yet somehow that knowledge does not stay with her other self. The Linda so possessed has neither clear memories of what happened (she has no memory of having been at the accident) nor, as in Butterfly Effect, does she have the sense of blackouts--she does not say to Annie that yesterday was Saturday and suddenly she awakens to find that it is Thursday, but only that the week sped past the way ordinary uneventful weeks do. She obviously has the sense that she lived through those days, but does not remember or understand the events we saw occurring on them.
There are a lot of other niggling little problems which we will hope to address along the way. There is the duplicate laundry, the pills in the sink, Dr. Roth, the commitment, the phone book page, and a few other minor details. These, though, are the problems with the most impact on the temporal analysis.
The single biggest problem in the movie is the fact that on the Thursday on which our story opens, Jim has been killed in the car crash Wednesday which Linda caused but does not remember causing, but Bridgette was not injured in the separate accident with the glass door. That means that there are two distinct versions of Tuesday, one on which Bridgette is injured and one on which she is not. The question becomes, how are those two days different from each other? That is, what causes the accident on the one day that does not happen on the other?
If we work backwards from the accident, we know that there are no stickers on the glass because Linda does not put them there until Thursday. We also know that Bridgette runs through the glass because when the storm hits the laundry is on the line. Thus to prevent the accident, we have to stop Bridgette from running for the laundry. That would not happen if she were not yet home, but there is no obvious way for her not to be home after school. Alternately, it would not happen if the laundry was not on the line.
At the moment the storm hits, Linda is upstairs in the bathroom contemplating the bottle of pills she just picked up from the pharmacy, prescribed by Dr. Roth. She spent the day here and there--the first "here" being a trip to find Dr. Roth, followed by a stop at Jim's office. Missing from what we see, she also picked up the girls from school and picked up her prescription from the pharmacy. Thus she has had a busy day.
If the only errand she ran was picking up the girls, though, then she would have been home most of the day. Had she not visited Dr. Roth, she would not be standing in the bathroom holding a pill bottle when the storm struck. That suggests that the change in our day occurs because she does not visit the psychiatrist. There are two ways to get that result.
It is evident that in an original history of some sort, Linda was not traveling in time, having strange experiences, and wondering if she was losing her mind. There would have been no reason to visit a psychiatrist on that occasion. However, if she is not traveling in time, she does not cause the accident on Wednesday--if she did, she would remember it clearly on Thursday, and she does not remember it at all when she is told about it. For Thursday to happen as we see it, there must be a version of history in which Linda does not see the psychiatrist but does cause the accident.
That might happen if somehow what the priest tells her on Sunday manages to penetrate her thoughts on Tuesday, so that she recognizes that these are real events, not her own insanity. Thus we would have a version of history in which Jim is killed and Bridgette crashes through the door, but we would have a subsequent altered version in which Bridgette is not injured. The problem with this is that it leads to a future in which Jim was killed but Bridgette was never injured, and we know that in the future the glass door incident was part of history.
The laundry would not be on the line had it never been washed at all. The movie might be hinting at this resolution by virtue of the fact that Linda notices on Monday that she is washing the same laundry she washed on Thursday, as if the laundry basket had not been touched for three days. That does not work, though. With two elememntary school children, there will be dirty laundry every day, and whether or not the wash is done on Monday the basket will contain different clothes on Thursday, because there will be more to wash. It is more probable that on Tuesday and Wednesday the girls wore the clothes that were washed on Monday, so they had to be washed again on Thursday. Besides, if on the altered Monday Linda had time to do the laundry, how could she not have had time to do it on the original Monday of the uneventful week? Although this would resolve the problem, it is not really a plausible variant.
So we need to be able to toggle the visit to the psychiatrist separately from the vehicular accident, which will have to be included in our ultimate solution.
Although the biggest problem is the problem of the glass door accident, the focus of the film is on that predestination paradox, the fact that Linda causes her husband's car crash by trying to prevent it based on her knowledge of it. If the accident did not happen, she would not know to try to prevent it; if she did not try to prevent it, it would not have happened. We have an uncaused cause, an event which only happens if it happens, and therefore cannot happen--unless we can provide a lost cause, an original cause that has been erased by the time traveler and replaced by the cause we see.
Such a cause is plausible here. Jim is ostensibly on his way to a business meeting, but is actually on his way to a tryst. If Linda were to travel from the future having knowledge of that anticipated affair, she could easily be pursuing him in an effort to prevent it. He does not stop the car until she has him on the phone and can see him ahead on the road; she wants him to cancel the business trip and come home because she does not want to lose him to the other woman, the new assistant manager Claire Francis. Thus it is plausible that she might cause the accident of which she is completely unaware, by trying to prevent the affair. However, she would have to have knowledge of the future in order to have done so, and that means she travels from a future in which Jim survived and had the affair and she knew it.
Our analysis is hampered by the fact that we do not know what causes the time travel. If we are starting with a history in which Jim did not die, then it cannot be his death that triggers it; yet if we start with a history in which Jim's affair triggers the time travel, then when Jim dies before that affair that event will not occur. That suggests that Linda departed from Thursday for no reason at all, and that she went through those days as originally outlined. The complete analysis of this is extremely long and complicated, and includes at least these complications:
This trip is not without complications. For one thing, would Linda realize that she had traveled back in time if she went to bed on Saturday and awoke on Sunday, given that she would not be going to church or doing anything else that would be genuinely different? Further, if we have an original trip from Saturday back to Sunday, but then we erase it, would that cause an infinity loop, in which two histories each cause the other, because the time traveler did not make the changes he originally made?
This will have to be considered; we'll look at it next as we reconstruct an original history.
We concluded that there might be a solution to the puzzle if we begin with the assumption that Linda lived through a week in which neither accident occurred, then traveled back to the previous Sunday. The theory is, to get ahead of ourselves, that her awareness of the impending affair causes her to interfere with the trip such that the accident kills Jim.
Linda is almost correct when she tells Annie on the phone on Thursday that it has been an uneventful week. Her Sunday was the same dull weekend as ever, she found the dead crow in the yard on Monday when she was hanging the laundry, she didn't go anywhere on Tuesday so she brought the laundry inside before she got the girls from school. On Wednesday, Jim left for his business trip. He is planning to have an affair with Claire Francis, but Linda is unaware of this. It has been a quiet week.
The problem is, Jim is going to have that affair. On the Wednesday we see, he cancels it; but that Wednesday follows from the Sunday on which Linda pulled out all the stops, shot the whole wad, trying to get Jim to connect with her and the girls. She succeeded--barely. He waited until the last minute to cancel the tryst. But that means that in the original history he did not cancel it. He did not call Claire to say he couldn't do it, and he did not call home to leave a cryptic message about some conversation that in this history never happened. He had the affair.
We then are faced with the question of when and how Linda discovers this. She would probably expect to hear something from him by Thursday night--if there is not a message on the answering machine saying he made it safely she'll probably call his cell phone or possibly his hotel room sometime that evening. Phone conversations from illicit lovenests never go well; there is always the unexpected noise in the background. So perhaps she starts to become suspicious on Thursday.
Perhaps not, though. There are two better possibilities. It has been suggested that on Saturday Jim confesses the whole story. This is unlikely. Even if he has decided to leave her, it is going to take a few weeks to get everything arranged, and one tryst does not make for a long-term commitment. If he is not going to leave her, he is not going to tell her about the tryst without some serious reason to do so.
It is more likely that Linda will guess. It will probably begin when Jim, thinking that he has a good thing going at this business meeting, will call home to say that he has to stay an extra day into Saturday. Something about that call will alert her intuition, and maybe she'll do a bit of checking and get enough together that she is suspicious. There might then be one more mistake--perhaps some article of Claire's clothing winds up in Jim's suitcase, and when Linda finds it and confronts him, he is too guilty to talk his way out of it. He might not tell her, but she knows.It is at this point that this history comes to an end. With the full knowledge that her husband had an affair with that woman from the office she has never met, Linda goes to bed, and for some reason completely unknown to us she travels back in time to the previous Sunday.
Assuming that Linda discovers the affair by Saturday and leaves from Saturday night to travel back to Sunday morning, we have our first alternate history. She arrives with full knowledge of the affair her husband has not yet had, and attempts to prevent it.
It has already been questioned whether she would realize she has traveled to the past, if she falls asleep Saturday night and awakens Sunday morning. It might not matter, though. If on Saturday she has determined that her husband has had an affair, by the next morning she may have decided that she is going to fight to keep her husband. She could easily have pressed him to take the girls out for the day, then to tell them how much he loves them. At some point she will realize that it is the wrong Sunday, that the business trip has not yet happened. She might wonder if it were a dream, but she won't reduce her effort.
There is a slight difference in that she will think Jim knows why she is doing this, and he won't have a clue unless he thinks she suspects. it does not matter. She will not expect him to speak of what she thinks he has already done and he at this point is only planning. When she realizes that she is in the wrong point in time, she will still think it worth the effort to make sure that what she perhaps imagined happened does not happen. Besides, Jim's hesitation to say what she expects suggests that he is already guilty in his mind, and this will feed her suspicion that what she thought happened might.
That night she goes to bed, and just as she does in later timelines she leaps forward to Wednesday. It is not perhaps as urgently on her mind, but she realizes that Jim has taken the children to school and is about to leave for his trip. She decides to stop him. But her efforts on Sunday have already had their desired, if delayed, impact. He swings by the insurance company and increases his coverage to thrice what it was, and then when he is on the highway he changes his mind, calls Claire to cancel their tryst, then calls home. Not getting an answer, he starts to leave the message we hear, about meaning what he said on Sunday.
Linda is pursuing him, because she wants to prevent the affair she does not know she has already prevented. She gets him on the phone, interrupting his message on the answering machine. Nothing is said about an impending accident, but as he pulls over she tells him to turn around and come home. The timing will be the same. Despite the lack of urgency in her request, he will begin to turn around, have a near miss with another car shooting over the hill, stall, and be stuck in the road when the truck jacknifes and crashes into his car.
Linda has now caused the accident, and Jim is dead; but since she did not travel back to Tuesday she did not see Dr. Roth, and Bridgette never ran through the glass door. We are set up for the Thursday we see in the film. We need to find a way for this history to confirm itself, which normally is accomplished when the same person leaves from the same time to the same time. Before that can happen, though, Linda will learn on Thursday about the accident she caused on Wednesday, and on Thursday night she will travel back to Monday.
Before we examine that history, though, we should cover a few of the peculiar points about this film's approach to time travel and what Linda experiences when it happens.
As we unravel the first changed history, we hit a serious problem concerning what Linda remembers. It is obvious that in the Thursday we see, Jim has already had his accident, and equally obvious that the Linda we see is completely unaware of this. She tells Annie it has been an uneventful week, and when Sheriff Reilly tells her what happened, to say she is surprised is understating the situation. Yet the events of that Wednesday cannot have happened unless Linda pursued Jim in her car, made the call that interrupted the message on the answering machine, and told Jim to turn around at mile marker 220. She must have been there to witness the accident. How can she be unaware of it having happened?
Of course, it was not she who witnessed the accident; it was her future self who traveled from some day that has not yet happened ultimately to Wednesday. Yet the time travel in this movie does not have Linda traveling bodily through time. She is Quantum Leap style possessing herself. She awakens in the bed in which she fell asleep on the previous calendar day, wearing what that self wore to bed. When she awakens on Tuesday morning after having fallen asleep in the hospital Saturday night, she confirms that there are no marks of the injections she received. Her other self is not lying next to her; she is her other self. That raises serious questions concerning what her other self is experiencing at that moment--the same kinds of questions we raised in connection with the same kind of time travel in Hot Tub Time Machine, where the issue of what they remembered destroyed time ultimately.
The problem here is not serious in the same way, because it is evident that she does not remember what happened. On the other hand, she does not appear to have the kind of Butterfly Effect blackouts experienced by Evan Treborn, in which she experiences gaps in time. She did not tell Annie that she went to bed on Tuesday and awoke on Thursday, or that the same thing happened when she went to bed on Saturday and somehow missed Sunday completely, let alone that she went to bed on Saturday night and has no memory of anything at all happening until Thursday morning. She speaks of it in the ordinary way in which we say that an uneventful week went quickly, with nothing particularly memorable to mention. She does not feel as if she has gaps in her memory.
What, then, does she remember?
It might be argued that the Linda to whom Sheriff Reilly reports the accident remembers the Wednesday of the week in which the accident did not happen. This, though, is problematic. If she is that Linda, how did she get into this timeline? Why would anyone remember the events of a day which has been erased and replaced by a different one? Was it not her body behind the wheel of the car when her other self witnessed the accident? It makes no sense for her to remember events which never happened.
We are thus caught between three impossibilities, the one that she remembers events which her future self will perform using her body in the past (because clearly she does not), the second that she has complete blackouts in which she remembers nothing at all (because she does not report that experience, which would be something unsual), and the third that she remembers the events of a history she never experienced and which no longer exists.
The only reasonable resolution which saves the movie at this point is that she must have some sort of blurry going-through-the-motions experience of the times during which she is possessed. She is doing things she does not understand for reasons she does not know, but she is not making any decisions nor paying any attention, and so she gets through those days on what feels like autopilot: going where she goes and doing what she does without any thought. It is rather drastic that she does not recall seeing the accident, but it must all have been blurred from her mind in a way that prevents her either from remembering it or from feeling as if she does not remember.
There is one other question here: what happens to Linda after the accident? Neither she nor her car were found at the scene (Sheriff Reilly would not be seeking her Thursday if she were there Wednesday), so she must have fled. She must somehow have finished Wednesday as her future self, and then when she went to bed abandoned that body to its rightful owner. We never see that part of the day, but only this reconstruction makes sense.
The first trip we see is by our reckoning the second one she makes; she had to make that original trip from Saturday back to Sunday to create the necessary history of the Thursday on which the flim begins. Thus when she departs on Thursday night after learning of Jim's accident, it is the second trip to the past. This one occurs from and to moments prior to the departure time of the first trip, so it delays resolution of that first anomaly.
This Linda arrives on Monday morning, knowing of the accident but not of the affair. The Linda she possesses had just been possessed on Sunday by the Linda who traveled from the following Saturday, so her memories are a bit blurry. Jim is headed to work, and thinking of that cute new assistant manager Claire Francis with whom he anticipates a dalliance later in the week; he mentions her as he is getting his breakfast together. The events of Sunday have not yet fully impacted him.
Nothing Linda does on Monday has any significant impact on history. She finds the crow while hanging the laundry (which as we noted she would have done on Monday in any case) and throws it in the trash. She worries about what she assumes must have been a dream. Jim is alive, so he could not have died Wednesday, and anyway, Wednesday is the day after tomorrow, so it certainly is not possible that Sheriff Reilly came to her on Thursday to tell her about the accident.
Yet she meets Sheriff Reilly when, distracted, she nearly has an accident herself. Why would a real person she had never met be in a dream about the future? These little reminders nag at her. Yet she still gets to bed on Monday night, and then leaps forward to Saturday.
She might leap forward to Saturday, but everyone else--including her other self--must live through the week to get there. That Tuesday is uneventful; again, there is no visit to Dr. Roth and corresponding glass door accident. Again, her memories of Wednesday are blurred by the presence of the consciousness that came from Saturday to Sunday to possess her at the accident. Thursday is again the day we see, in which she is told of the accident (but Bridgette is not injured).
While Linda's consciousness will travel from Thursday to Monday, that history is now resolved, and so it will also advance to Friday. Friday exists already, because in the original history she lived through it. This, then, is the altered (CD) history of that first anomaly, changed by the fact that Jim died and did not have the affair. This is not the Linda we see taking Friday in hand when she possesses herself, but the collapsed Linda who fell asleep on the couch Thursday night, and it is very likely that her mother has to help her through the day and the making of the arrangements. Other events are less certain. She has no reason to visit Claire Francis, although she might go to the insurance agent Doug and learn that the policy values were increased. She probably does open the wine to have a drink before bed, leaving the glass in the same place.
Thus her Saturday will be much as we see in the film, but for two significant exceptions. Although she will see and approach Claire Francis, Claire has never met nor seen her before, and will not speak of the conversation they did not yet have on Friday. That makes this situation much more difficult to reconstruct. Claire has no reason not to introduce herself as the new assistant manager who was working with Jim; there was no consumation of the planned affair and no reason to believe anyone knew of it. Linda has no reason not to invite her to join them at the graveside. That tension has not yet developed, and unless Claire is incompetent (which she is not) it won't happen that way.
Also, since Linda has not yet involved Dr. Roth in the situation, no one will call Dr. Roth to have her committed. She will probably open the coffin after insisting that he's not dead, but the concerns of the family are not yet raised to the level of thinking she needs professional care. Thus she goes to bed at home, and awakens in bed on Tuesday, starting the third anomaly of the film, but raising another issue about this one.
Our first anomaly had Linda leaving from the end of the original history from home on Saturday night, and arriving the previous Sunday. Now she again leaves from Saturday, but this time travels to Tuesday. This would seem to undo her trip to Sunday, which would unravel the history so far. If she does not travel from Saturday to Sunday, she does not arrive on Sunday and then travel to Wednesday to cause the accident, and that means that on Thursday Jim will not be dead and they won't have had the funeral Saturday.
It is not unresolvable. What replacement theory requires is that at the moment the original traveler left for the past, his replacement makes the same trip, unless somehow everything that he caused will be caused some other way. In this case, it is perfectly acceptable for Linda to make a different trip from Saturday night, provided that she departs not later than she needs to depart for the other trip, and that her departure ultimately results in her arrival on Sunday.
The complicating fact is that we do not know when she departs. Sometime between when she goes to sleep and when she awakens she travels through time. It might be the moment she falls asleep, or a fixed time after she falls asleep, or a specific moment (e.g., midnight) during the night, or possibly (least likely) the moment she would awaken at the destination point.
If it is the last of these, it is almost certain that she slept later on Sunday than she did on Tuesday. She had to be awake to get the girls breakfasted and out the door Tuesday, and the Sunday opening suggests the girls were up playing before she and Jim were out of bed. Thus her arrival time would be later, allowing a later departure time if that is the basis.
If it is a fixed time, then we assume the fixed time does not change. If she leaves at midnight exactly (whether because of the clock chiming in the hall or the proper alignment of stars or whatever cause) she is going to leave at that time regardless of her destination, and that means she will not leave later than she did.
The only issue is whether she will go to sleep later if she is leaving at that moment or a time measured from that moment. Here we might be able to presume we are safe. In the first history, she learned of the affair, and she is upset and probably will not go to bed, or to sleep, very early. She might stay awake most of the night, collapsing before dawn. In any case, she probably will be up later. On the Saturday of the first version of the funeral, she is going to be tired, and once she gets the girls to bed and cleans up a bit, she will probably go to bed herself, earlier than she would have in the original history. When history changes again, and she spends the night at the hospital, they drug her, and it is likely that she will fall asleep yet sooner, making her trip in time.
However, if she departs from the same time on Saturday and arrives on Tuesday instead of Sunday, she probably does not also arrive on Sunday. This creates serious complications, but we can avoid them entirely by asserting that she left Saturday after the funeral not later than she left Saturday for Sunday, and thus her Sunday arrival is not yet erased. That issue will return, however.
We should also mention that the second anomaly created by her first departure from Thursday to Monday, the week she skipped leaping from Monday to Saturday, raises the awkward question of why she would leave from Thursday of the CD1 history (created by her first trip from Saturday back to Sunday) when she did not leave from Thursday in the AB1 history (the original unaltered history in which no one arrived from any future). Again, though, we do not know whence nor why she leaves nor why she goes whither she arrives. This makes the story risky, because if the reason for the trip is erased the trip is erased and the consequences of the trip are then erased restoring the reason and creating an infinity loop. We can only assume that whatever changed such that Linda made the trip Thursday the second time (and not the first) never changed back, and the same with each of the other trips except, ultimately, the first, which again is that issue which will return.
Leaving from Saturday, Linda now arrives on not Sunday but Tuesday. Since in one sense she (this Linda) has never made the first trip, this is the second time she has found herself in a present prior to events she thought she had already lived. She is concerned about her sanity.
Dr. Roth is the only psychiatrist in the phone book, so she tears out the page and heads for his office, probably because she hopes that as a walk-in she might be able to get time immediately instead of an appointment in three months. This works, and she explains to him how she twice has had the very real experience of being in the future, a future in which her husband has died tragically. She does not mention the pills, nor ask whether he knows her, and does not recognize him. However, based on what he reasonably assesses to be her hallucinations, he prescribes lithium, and she fills that prescription before she gets home.
She also stops at Jim's office, because whether the future she has seen is real or hallucinatory she would rather he not make the planned business trip tomorrow. It is here that she meets the woman she already met at the funeral. Perhaps when she is introduced she says, "I know" (she did that with the funeral director on Friday), and that gets a reaction from Claire or Jim (who is already off balance by Linda's pressure on Sunday) which sparks an idea which, combined with Jim's unwillingness to cancel the trip, gives her the necessary suspicion about the pending affair. In any case, what she sees and hears at the office leads her to think that something untoward is afoot.
It brings her to that moment after she has brought the girls home from school when she is pouring pills in her hand contemplating an overdose. Either she is losing her sanity or she is losing her husband, and she is not certain she can face either. Then, though, the rain hits. She yells for the girls, and then sees Bridgette run through the glass door--not something she anticipated, because this was not the reality in the future she knows. She rushes to the hospital, then covers all the mirrors and instructs the girls that they are not to discuss the scars. Before bed she asks Jim please to awaken her in the morning if it is Wednesday. He agrees, but it is evident that he does not do this.
Wednesday she is still possessed by the other version of herself who traveled from Saturday to Sunday and then to Wednesday, so she does what she did based on her desire to prevent not the accident but the affair. Thursday is different, because she emerges from her blurry memories to find Bridgette covered in scars she cannot remember. The girls won't tell her and Jim is already dead (outside her knowledge). Annie will probably tell her about the glass door accident, because Linda will see the scars in the morning and when she talks to Annie she will say she doesn't know what's happening. This will feed the feeling by Saturday that Linda is losing her mind and needs psychiatric care, because this Thursday will replay this way henceforth, with Linda unaware of either of the accidents she caused and witnessed due to her blurred memories, and although no one will ever know she was at the scene of the vehicular crash, the fact that she cannot remember the glass door accident on Thursday or again on Saturday will create concern.
But this timeline does not reach Saturday, because on Friday Linda again possesses herself, leaping forward from Tuesday. This time she takes control of the situation, makes the funeral arrangements, and confronts Claire Francis, getting confirmation of the affair that almost was. This, too, will feed into Saturday, but again that does not yet happen, because on Friday night, after having a glass of wine, she leaps back to create the final anomaly, possessing herself on Sunday.
There are a couple of fragments that are annoying for various reasons.
One of these is the entire fictional location at which the accident occurs. That's fine; movies may be set in fictional locations. This one, though, is particularly fictional. It occurs at mile marker 220 on U. S. Highway 57 Westbound (or Eastbound, the directon the truck was traveling).
There is a U. S. Highway 57. It is located in Texas, running from somewhere south of San Antonio to the Mexican border via bridge over the Rio Grande, where it becomes Mexican Federal Highway 57. It is barely over one hundred miles long within the United States, so there would be no such mile marker. As to whether southern Texas ever looks like the Hanson homeland seems unlikely. This, though, is not a serious objection. We can have the highway anywhere the storytellers like, and very few people, relatively speaking, will know either of those facts about Highway 57. The annoying part is that the signs indicate that U. S. 57 runs East and West. Indeed, it appears to do so on the map, and the slight north/south displacement between its ends would make it seem silly to think otherwise. However, all United States highways, whether part of the older U.S. Route system (the black-on-white shields) or the more recent Interstate system (the red, white, and blue shields) use odd numbers for north/south roads and even numbers for east/west routes, and that bit of worthless trivia is known by more than just long-haul truckers and authors schooled in worthless trivia. No matter where it is in the country, you cannot go west on an odd-numbered Federal highway.
That is not important, just annoying.
More problematic is the fact that Linda spills pills in the sink on Tuesday afternoon and finds them there on Saturday morning. We are told that the house has one and a half bathrooms, and that's the one with the shower (and presumably tub) so that's the one the girls use for bathing and probably brushing teeth and other getting ready for bed or school activities. It is the bathroom Jim uses in the morning, and he shaves before work and would certainly have done so on Wednesday. Linda also would have been in there on Thursday and Friday, if not Wednesday, and since her mother helped put the girls to bed on Thursday evening and helped get them up for school Friday morning she, too, was in there. How could the pills have stayed in the sink of the upstairs bathroom all that time? In Frequency and Butterfly Effect events which happened in the past had their effects leap forward to the future, but it made no sense in those films and less in this one. For some unimaginable reason, no one cleaned up the spilled pills in all that time.
Also problematic is the broken glass door. Bridgette runs through it late Tuesday afternoon, and Linda and Jim are together at the hospital with her until evening, too late for a repairman to install new glass. Wednesday morning Jim leaves early and takes the girls to school, and Linda rushes out of the house in pursuit. Jim dies Wednesday. Friday, there is glass in the door, complete with stickers. When and how was it replaced? Also noteworthy, the stickers we see on the door on the Friday with the scarred Bridgette are the ones Linda put there on the Thursday with the uninjured Bridgette. Given that on the Thursday we see there had not been an accident, when new glass was installed after the accident would Linda not have been motivated to put more or brighter stickers on the door? The Linda who puts stickers on the door is not aware that there was an accident, unless she is also the Linda who arranges to have the glass replaced sometime on Thursday. That, though, would mean that on Thursday it's obvious to her that the broken glass door and her daughter's scars are connected; her only concern is that she does not remember it happening. It only becomes a problem if Linda replaced the glass on Wednesday, but in this timeline that Linda came from a future in which there was no such accident, so she will be unaware that the door is broken unless she happens to see it as she rushes out of the house. So the stickers are less of a problem than the glass: when was it repaired?
All movies have such quirks, of course. These probably are not insoluble, but they cause us to wonder about the events we do not see and how these can connect the ones we do.
Like the Linda who traveled from Saturday to Sunday, the Linda who travels from Friday to Sunday also is aware of Jim's affair. The difference is that the previous Linda knew that the affair happened, and this version knows that he was headed for the affair when the accident killed him. That gives her more hope and more incentive: if she can persuade Jim not to have the affair, he might not make the trip, and might not be killed in the accident which she does not know she causes. So she does much that she did in the first altered history, and so confirms those events.
There is an awkward aspect to this. It is already odd that Linda displaces her own consciousness when she leaps to other days, whether past or future. When she leaps back to Monday, she brings her awareness that Jim is going to die; when she leaps forward to Saturday she does not remember the glass door accident which happened Tuesday. Thus the spirit or soul or consciousness which makes the trip suppresses the one that was already there. This time, though, there is already a suppressing consciousness present: the Linda who leapt from Saturday has not yet been removed from the past (as noted, had that trip been erased the accident would not have happened). For some reason, then, the consciousness which leaps back from Friday dominates the original consciousness and also the consciousness which leapt back from Saturday. We cannot guess why this is the case; we have no explanation for the time travel at all, so guessing why it works as it does is just guessing. It appears that the Friday traveler supercedes the Saturday traveler. She does so again when they leap to Wednesday.
Of course, Monday and Tuesday have to pass to reach Wednesday, but these are fixed. Nothing Linda does on those days will change, as she is controlled by consciousnesses which came, respectively, from Thursday and Saturday. We have the glass door accident because Linda is spilling pills in the sink when the storm hits. When she awakens and realizes it is Wednesday, she wants to prevent both the affair and the accident, so she performs the same actions as when she wanted to prevent the affair. This time she recognizes mile marker 220, and so panics; but she still wants him to turn around and come home, and the difference between her original coaxing and her panicked insistence does not prevent the accident.
Again we do not know what happens to this Linda after the accident. The best guess is that she leaps forward into oblivion. On Thursday, another Linda lives through the day in which she fixes the glass door and realizes that this is why Bridgette is scarred but she doesn't remember it. That Linda will travel back to Monday, confirming the events of that anomaly but not thinking to put stickers on the glass door. On Friday she is possessed by the self that is self-possessed and gets everything ready, traveling back to Sunday to try to prevent the affair, again confirming the events of that anomaly. On Saturday she is possessed by the confused traveler from Monday, but she is already aware of the glass door accident so her lack of knowledge about this drops out of the story.
It may be that at this point her commitment drops out of the story. The events of Thursday are confused, and although she spoke with Annie before she heard that Jim had died, no one is going to be surprised that she had some trouble remembering details of Bridgette's accident after she heard about Jim's. If she is asked about the scars, she knows Bridgette crashed through the glass she had to replace on Thursday, even if she does not know the details. So Linda goes to bed in her own bed on Saturday night.
That may also be why she travels back to Tuesday and not to Sunday--although again, we have the problem that not knowing why she travels at all we are only guessing as to why she does so when she does. She does not need to travel to Sunday, however--the Linda who traveled from Friday did everything she needed to do on Sunday and on Wednesday. All of history is falling into place as a coherent single version; but it is not the version we see in the film. We will have to reconstruct it next time.
We have worked through the details of Linda Hanson's travels, and now can look at a final timeline, the one she will remember in the months ahead.
On Sunday, she is possessed by her consciousness which came from Friday, aware that her husband was on his way to have an affair but instead was killed in an accident. She pressured her husband to think about the love he has for his family, and seduced him when they went to bed. Her consciousness leapt forward to Wednesday.
On Monday, she is possessed by her consciousness which came from Thursday. She is confused and uncertain, because she was told on Thursday that Jim was killed but she finds him alive and well. She supposes it must have been a very vivid dream, which also included the fact that the glass door had to be replaced and Bridgette was covered with freshly stitched wounds. She leaps from here to Saturday.
On Tuesday, she is possessed by the self which has just come from the day of the funeral. She again finds Jim alive, and hugs him. She sees Dr. Roth, meets Claire Francis for what is for Claire the first time, spills pills in the sink, and is unable to prevent Bridgette from crashing through the glass door. She tells Jim to wake her Wednesday morning. Her consciousness then leaps to Friday.
On Wednesday, Jim does not awaken her, but takes the girls to school, increases his insurance, and then on his way to the affair cancels it. He places a call home, his answering machine message interrupted by the call from Linda, who possessed by the self that came from Sunday is pursuing him. Trying to prevent the accident and bring Jim home safely, she causes it. She manages to escape the scene and return home, and leaps into the future that night.
On Thursday she is not possessed. Her memories of the week are blurred, but she discovers both that the glass door is shattered and that Bridgette is covered with scars. That's an easy deduction, although she worries that she does not remember it and mentions it to Annie, who will have heard about it on Tuesday when it happened (they talk every day). She puts stickers on the new glass, then gets the news that Jim was killed Wednesday, which shocks her. Her mother comes to help, and she falls alseep on the couch. Her consciousness will travel back to Monday.
On Friday she is possessed by the self that just came from Tuesday. She is pretty certain of the affair, having seen Claire at the funeral on Saturday and the office on Tuesday, so in addition to her other errands she confronts the assistant manager and gets the story. She has the glass of wine before bed, and her consciousness leaps back to Sunday.
On Saturday, she is possessed by the self that came from Monday. She is still confused about Jim's death, and there will be a scene at the church when she insists on seeing the body. She will see Claire Francis for what for her is the first time, and pursue her, to the confusion of Claire. She will not be the least surprised at Bridgette's injuries, because she saw them on Thursday. She probably will not be committed Saturday night. Her consciousness travels back to Tuesday.
As we reach the following Sunday, her consciousness catches up with itself. She awakens in her own bed with the knowledge of the week that passed, all of which she experienced out of sequence. Jim died; she caused his death. She attended the funeral before she saw the accident. She may visit Dr. Roth this week and try to work through some of her grief, but probably won't tell him everything. Given time, she recovers, and moves to another home.
In The Lake House, Sandra Bullock's character saves the man's life and destroys time. This time it looked as if she was going to destroy time by killing the man; but that proved to be too hasty a conclusion. Although there are some questionable quirks in the film, and the nature of the time travel is never explained, it appears that from a temporal perspective the story is possible. That is, if we assume that time travel of the sort the movie uses is possible, the story becomes possible if it follows the path outlined in our series.
Congratulations for making a very challenging time travel puzzle.
At one point in our analysis it was said that a particular version of Linda leapt forward into oblivion. This is a poor way of expressing briefly a complicated aspect of replacement theory which confuses a lot of readers: what happens to the other versions of time travelers? The short answer is that they cease ever to have existed. That answer always raises objections, and so the long answer becomes necessary.
In the particular case of Premonition we have a version of Linda Hanson who on Saturday discovered that her husband had had an affair, then awoke on the previous Sunday. It is not clear at what point she realized it was the previous Sunday (as opposed to merely the next day), but she made a concerted effort to cement her husband's relationship with his family, including herself. She then leapt forward to Wednesday and, unaware of any accident, pursued Jim to mile marker 220 on U.S. Route 57 West, and had him turn around to come home. When he did, she prevented the affair but caused the accident.
Since the next day she was completely unware of the accident, we must conclude that the consciousness which caused the accident left, probably (as with all the others) overnight. The question raised is where that consciousness went. We presume that it leapt forward to the following Sunday. However, the following Sunday does not yet exist, and will not exist until all the anomalies of this week resolve (to N-jumps) so that there is a single history of the week in which all causes and effects are found. Meanwhile, the history of Linda Hanson is being rewritten out from under her. By the time we get to Saturday night, the Linda Hanson who lives through Saturday is not only not the same person, she's possessed by a Linda Hanson who came forward from Monday and is bound, not directly to Sunday but to Tuesday and then Friday before reaching Sunday. She is at that moment a Linda who does not know that her husband had an affair, because he did not--he was killed in a crash before he got there. The Linda who learned that her husband had an affair thus no longer exists, no longer ever has existed, because her husband never had the affair.
That means that the Linda who awakens the following Sunday morning has to be the one who lived through the week in its final form. For her, the history of the world includes that she lived the week out of sequence, made love to her husband on Sunday, visited a psychiatrist on Tuesday, could not prevent Bridgette from crashing through the glass door on Tuesday, caused the accident which killed her husband on Wednesday, learned about the accident from the sheriff on Thursday, confirmed on Friday that her husband had been on his way to have an affair, and attended the funeral, still in shock, on Saturday. Those are the events that actually happened in the only history of the world that remains; those are the events she, and everyone else, remembers.
Yet readers still struggle with the question of what happened to the "other" Linda. The easiest answer is that she was rewritten. Someone wound time backwards for her, taking her identity back to a moment before any of this happened, and then let time move forward, rewriting who she was into who she becomes. The fact is, time travel does that for everyone, for all the people who never travel through time. Where is the unscarred Bridgette, or the Jim and Claire who had the affair? The events of their lives changed; they became the people who lived a different history It is not different for the time traveler: if Linda changes the events that form who she is and what she knows, then the only version of her that still exists is the one who is and knows what she caused herself to become and learn.
So the Linda that knew of her husband's affair and not of his accident does not "go" anywhere. As she leaves Wednesday for the as yet unwritten future, she ceases ever to have existed, rewritten into the Linda who knows that she caused the accident which killed her husband before he had the affair. To say that the earlier Linda goes to "oblivion" is not a terribly accurate way to express that, but it doesn't require a full article's worth of explanation in the midst of something else.
I do hope that is clear.